CHECKLISTS

Timothy and Titus – Inconspicuous Leadership

1 Timothy 5 checklistI am a list maker…even in retirement from my secular work. For me, what doesn’t get listed, doesn’t get done. It is also very rewarding for me to check that item off the list when it is accomplished. The list has a progression of priorities. One task cannot happen until another task is completed. And so life goes with my lists guiding my behavior and productivity.

As I journal each morning in my conversational prayer with God, the Father, His Spirit guides me to make another list that helps me to mature and grow in Him. I am convicted of some of those “fruits of the Spirit” that I have not tended to or cultivated, have ignored or left undone. His Holy Spirit redirects my thoughts and helps me form a list of tasks that will help me improve my behavior. “Keep a close check on yourself”, writes Paul to Timothy. For me, that means to make a spiritual checklist that keeps me in close contact with the will and purpose of our Father, God and helps me to grow closer to Him.

We can do nothing of significance without God. I am convinced that He guides us to all things that are good for our growth and aid our learning about Him and how He works. Paul also gives Timothy sound advice about how to treat those whom God has called to lead with character traits with another list of how to lead. This list still applies to us today. The theme of this episode seems to be; Know God, Know Yourself, Know The Message, Know Your Audience. Our deeds, good and bad, will be evident. Be driven by God’s love in us.

1 Timothy 5, The Message

17-18 Give a bonus to leaders who do a good job, especially the ones who work hard at preaching and teaching. Scripture tells us, “Don’t muzzle a working ox” and “A worker deserves his pay.”

19 Don’t listen to a complaint against a leader that isn’t backed up by two or three responsible witnesses.

20 If anyone falls into sin, call that person on the carpet. Those who are inclined that way will know right off they can’t get by with it.

21-23 God and Jesus and angels all back me up in these instructions. Carry them out without favoritism, without taking sides. Don’t appoint people to church leadership positions too hastily. If a person is involved in some serious sins, you don’t want to become an unwitting accomplice. In any event, keep a close check on yourself. And don’t worry too much about what the critics will say. Go ahead and drink a little wine, for instance; it’s good for your digestion, good medicine for what ails you.

24-25 The sins of some people are blatant and march them right into court. The sins of others don’t show up until much later. The same with good deeds. Some you see right off, but none are hidden forever.

1 Timothy 5 check yourselfLEADERSHIP PRINCIPLE #6: Keep a Close Check on Yourself

Leadership Characteristics –

–Fully rely on God. Trust Him with all you are and all you have. We are His. All we have is His.
–Ask God “if there is anything offensive to you, cleanse me.” as the Psalmist prayed.
–Repent with a heart and mind not wanting to return to the old life.
–Look full into the face of Jesus, our Master, Lord and Savior with laser focus so we know what direction to take next.
–“Keep a close check on yourself.” Avoid, “he did it, I can, too” or “my sin is not as bad as his sin” or “everybody’s doing it” mentality.
–Ask God for wisdom, insight and understanding.
–Allow God’s transformation to continue in our lives.
–Ask God to make your lists of to BE and to DO. HE will prioritize your lists in ways you cannot imagine! Where He guides, He provides help all along the journey.
–Do all in a Spirit of love for God and others.
–Care enough to confront others with God’s love and concern for their spiritual well-being and growth.

Warning   The things on our spiritual check list can never be crossed off because we’ll be working on them our whole lives. By listing we are reminding ourselves of what we need to work on to “keep a close check” on our lives. It is only by The Atonement of Jesus Christ can we accomplish anything of eternal significance.

Dear Heavenly Father,
You have convinced me that we must do spiritual “business” with You each day to improve our being in You. Thank you for helping us on this journey. Thank you for Your Holy Spirit that points out things in our behavior that could cause us to crash…before crashing. Thank you for always being with us, guiding and directing, loving and protecting and challenging us to grow and bear Fruit. Continue to transform me. Transform your church. Transform the world through your church.
In Jesus Name, Amen

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“WE DON’T KNOW”

Matthew – God’s Purposes
Matthew 21 i don't knowIsn’t it annoying to work for a leader who gives you solutions to your question off the top of their heads without really knowing the answer or thinking about what is true and right? You question it but you obey the boss hoping it will be okay. Do we do this to our kids at times? Wouldn’t it be better (and safer) to just say, “I don’t know”? Even better, is to follow “I don’t know” with “I will find out the Truth and get back to you”. There would be a lot less confusion in the world if we would think first then respond.
 
Matthew 21 don't knowThe Pharisees, however, consistently trying to trap Jesus, expressed concern of His authority at the Temple in front of everyone gathered there. Jesus, knowing their hearts, answered their question with a question. After a leadership committee meeting, they respond, “We don’t know”. Best response they could have given. They DIDN’T know. They didn’t know Jesus, Son of God. They didn’t know God’s Word was meant to help not burden people. The didn’t know the intent of God’s Word and commands. Worst of all, they didn’t know God anymore.
 
They only knew of their present positional power over people along with greed and dishonesty passed down to them. The Pharisees and other religious leaders were going to hold on to this unholy tradition as long as they possibly could. Can you imagine going up against God, in the flesh, and asking, “By what authority are you doing all these things?”
 
Matthew 21 nopeWow. They were right about ONE thing…They didn’t know.
 
They watched as Jesus healed the lame, sick, blind and broken. They watched Him love ALL people with unconditional love. They heard Him speak as no one had ever spoken as He read God’s Word. People responded to Jesus openly said, “He speaks with such authority, as one who knows”, but they didn’t know.
 
They didn’t know Jesus, Son of God, Messiah. They didn’t know or recognize the ONE they had been waiting for because they stopped looking for Him long ago.
 
Matthew 21, NLT
Matthew 21 authorityThe Authority of Jesus Challenged
23 When Jesus returned to the Temple and began teaching, the leading priests and elders came up to him. They demanded, “By what authority are you doing all these things? Who gave you the right?”
 
24 “I’ll tell you by what authority I do these things if you answer one question,” Jesus replied. 25 “Did John’s authority to baptize come from heaven, or was it merely human?”
 
They talked it over among themselves. “If we say it was from heaven, he will ask us why we didn’t believe John. 26 But if we say it was merely human, we’ll be mobbed because the people believe John was a prophet.” 27 So they finally replied, “We don’t know.”
 
And Jesus responded, “Then I won’t tell you by what authority I do these things.
 
Parable of the Two Sons
Matthew 21 parable28 “But what do you think about this? A man with two sons told the older boy, ‘Son, go out and work in the vineyard today.’ 29 The son answered, ‘No, I won’t go,’ but later he changed his mind and went anyway. 30 Then the father told the other son, ‘You go,’ and he said, ‘Yes, sir, I will.’ But he didn’t go.
 
31 “Which of the two obeyed his father?”
 
They replied, “The first.”
 
Then Jesus explained his meaning: “I tell you the truth, corrupt tax collectors and prostitutes will get into the Kingdom of God before you do. 32 For John the Baptist came and showed you the right way to live, but you didn’t believe him, while tax collectors and prostitutes did. And even when you saw this happening, you refused to believe him and repent of your sins.
 
Parable of the Evil Farmers
33 “Now listen to another story. A certain landowner planted a vineyard, built a wall around it, dug a pit for pressing out the grape juice, and built a lookout tower. Then he leased the vineyard to tenant farmers and moved to another country. 34 At the time of the grape harvest, he sent his servants to collect his share of the crop. 35 But the farmers grabbed his servants, beat one, killed one, and stoned another. 36 So the landowner sent a larger group of his servants to collect for him, but the results were the same.
 
37 “Finally, the owner sent his son, thinking, ‘Surely they will respect my son.’
 
38 “But when the tenant farmers saw his son coming, they said to one another, ‘Here comes the heir to this estate. Come on, let’s kill him and get the estate for ourselves!’ 39 So they grabbed him, dragged him out of the vineyard, and murdered him.
 
40 “When the owner of the vineyard returns,” Jesus asked, “what do you think he will do to those farmers?”
 
41 The religious leaders replied, “He will put the wicked men to a horrible death and lease the vineyard to others who will give him his share of the crop after each harvest.”
 
42 Then Jesus asked them, “Didn’t you ever read this in the Scriptures?
 
‘The stone that the builders rejected
has now become the cornerstone.
This is the Lord’s doing,
and it is wonderful to see.’
 
43 I tell you, the Kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a nation that will produce the proper fruit. 44 Anyone who stumbles over that stone will be broken to pieces, and it will crush anyone it falls on.”
 
45 When the leading priests and Pharisees heard this parable, they realized he was telling the story against them—they were the wicked farmers. 46 They wanted to arrest him, but they were afraid of the crowds, who considered Jesus to be a prophet.
 
QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION…
 
Are we so busy with church work that we have stopped looking and relating to the Son of God personally?
 
Do we rely on our own authority given to us my man?
 
Are we relying on what little we know instead of learning daily from God’s Holy Spirit, our Spiritual guide and authority for living life as God intended?
 
It’s so easy to lose focus and begin to make up rules for ourselves and other church goers that are not in God’s Word. We express opinions that have nothing to do with love for God and each other, only as a way to be heard, to have power over someone else or just to be self righteous which is not right at all. Sometimes we are mess. Sometimes we don’t know anything at all. But God does. He knows everything and all things because He created all and is in all.
 
Look to Jesus, the ONLY authority for our lives. Let Him have His way in our lives. Talk to Him each morning and find out what He wants for our day. Take time to listen after asking. Develop and grow an intimate eternal relationship with Jesus which is not a religion but the most important relationship we will ever have! Nope, it’s not a religion or a slogan, it’s an authentic relationship with The Redeemer of our souls.
 
Matthew 21 choose your stoneDear Heavenly Father,
You sought us and saved us before we knew anything about You. You loved us while we were forming in our mother’s womb. You have loved us since you created us. You are the supreme authority over my life. I bow to You. I listen to You for the final word on anything in my life. You are God and I am not. To You be glory, honor and all my praise. I love you with all that is in me.
In Jesus Name, Amen
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FRUIT BEARING

Matthew – God’s Purposes
 
Matthew 21 figsI love to grow plants of all kinds. I win some and lose some in this hobby, but I still like to watch God’s creation grow to bloom. You get a little dirty in this work but it is worth all the effort. I love watching fruits and vegetables form from the blooms. It is all amazing to watch. As a family, we love eating the fruits of our labor.
 
How disappointing it is when a plant does not produce, withers and dies right before your eyes after all the love and care you gave it. Is this how Jesus felt about the fig tree? Or was he thinking of something (or someone) else as he passed by wanting to eat a few figs for breakfast but finding none to eat?
 
Matthew 21, NLT
Jesus Curses the Fig Tree
 
Matthew 21 nothing18 In the morning, as Jesus was returning to Jerusalem, he was hungry, 19 and he noticed a fig tree beside the road. He went over to see if there were any figs, but there were only leaves. Then he said to it, “May you never bear fruit again!” And immediately the fig tree withered up.
 
20 The disciples were amazed when they saw this and asked, “How did the fig tree wither so quickly?”
 
21 Then Jesus told them, “I tell you the truth, if you have faith and don’t doubt, you can do things like this and much more. You can even say to this mountain, ‘May you be lifted up and thrown into the sea,’ and it will happen. 22 You can pray for anything, and if you have faith, you will receive it.”
 
GOING DEEPER…
 
That Jesus would curse a tree may surprise us. The same power that killed the tree could also have given it new life and fruit. Jesus certainly would not hold a tree morally responsible for being fruitless. When we consider the time and place of this event, we understand it better.
 
Jesus was near Jerusalem in the last week of His public ministry to His people. The fig tree symbolized the nation of Israel (Jer. 8:13; Hos 9:10, 16; Luke 13:6–9). Just as this tree had leaves but no fruit, so Israel had a show of religion but no practical experience of faith resulting in godly living. Jesus was not angry at the tree. Rather, He used this tree to teach several lessons to His disciples.
 
God wants to produce fruit in the lives of His people.
Fruit is the product of life. The presence of leaves usually indicates the presence of fruit, but this was not the case. In the parable of the fig tree (Luke 13:6–9), the gardener was given more time to care for the tree, but now the time was up. This tree was taking up space and doing no good.
 
Jesus used this event to teach His disciples a practical lesson about faith and prayer. The temple was supposed to be a “house of prayer,” and the nation was to be a believing people. But both of these essentials were missing. We too must beware of the peril of fruitlessness.
 
Do we look good, smell good but no fruit is apparent in our own lives? Do we think that just going to church is enough? Do we think that if we work hard enough the fruit will come?
 
What IS the fruit Jesus is looking for in us? See Galatians 5 for an understanding of living a life that bears a likeness to Jesus Christ. Here is a portion:
 
6 So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves. 17 The sinful nature wants to do evil, which is just the opposite of what the Spirit wants. And the Spirit gives us desires that are the opposite of what the sinful nature desires. These two forces are constantly fighting each other, so you are not free to carry out your good intentions. 18 But when you are directed by the Spirit, you are not under obligation to the law of Moses.
 
19 When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, the results are very clear: sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures, 20 idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division, 21 envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other sins like these. Let me tell you again, as I have before, that anyone living that sort of life will not inherit the Kingdom of God.
 
22 But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!
 
24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there. 25 Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives. 26 Let us not become conceited, or provoke one another, or be jealous of one another.
 
Matthew 21 leavesAh, so now we get it, right? Allow God’s Holy Spirit to reign supremely in us and through us. The fruit will come through obedience to His Spirit as we yield to Him every day of our lives.
 
Dear Heavenly Father,
Do what it takes to grow me. But be gentle. I know you are not finished with me yet. I still need all you have to be all you want me to be. I’m willing. I’m listening. I’m ready to follow You wherever You lead. Fruitfulness is your desire so it is my desire, too.
In Jesus Name, Amen
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CLEANING UP

Matthew – God’s Purposes
Matthew 21 palm
There was that time when Randy and I thought our three children were finally old enough to be left alone for a few hours while we went grocery shopping along with other errands. They were of the age of assuming certain responsibilities such as cleaning their rooms, kitchen and bathrooms while were were gone. They didn’t want to go on these errands but doing their chores while we were gone was not too appealing either.
 
So, as most kids will do, they put all chores off until the heard the motor of our vehicle pull into the driveway. I don’t know who they thought they were fooling, but we walked into a messy house with three industrious kids working as if they had been working the whole time we were gone. Back in that day we could feel the measure of warmth of the TV and knew it was the focus of their activity while we were gone.
 
We expected the best but realized that kids at their age have not quite caught the vision of setting all things right BEFORE mom and dad arrive.
 
Did Jesus know before arriving at the Temple that people had made a mess of His House?
 
Matthew 21, NLT
Jesus Clears the Temple
 
Matthew 21 cheering stopped12 Jesus entered the Temple and began to drive out all the people buying and selling animals for sacrifice. He knocked over the tables of the money changers and the chairs of those selling doves. 13 He said to them, “The Scriptures declare, ‘My Temple will be called a house of prayer,’ but you have turned it into a den of thieves!”
 
14 The blind and the lame came to him in the Temple, and he healed them. 15 The leading priests and the teachers of religious law saw these wonderful miracles and heard even the children in the Temple shouting, “Praise God for the Son of David.”
 
But the leaders were indignant. 16 They asked Jesus, “Do you hear what these children are saying?”
 
“Yes,” Jesus replied. “Haven’t you ever read the Scriptures? For they say, ‘You have taught children and infants to give you praise.’” 17 Then he returned to Bethany, where he stayed overnight.
 
GOING DEEPER…
Matthew 21 cleansingJesus had opened His ministry with a similar act (John 2:13–25). Now, three years later, the temple was defiled again by the “religious business” of the leaders. They had turned the court of the Gentiles into a place where foreign Jews could exchange money and purchase sacrifices. What had begun as a service and convenience for visitors from other lands soon turned into a lucrative business. The dealers charged exorbitant prices and no one could compete with them or oppose them.
 
Historians tell us that Annas, the former high priest, was the manager of this enterprise, assisted by his sons. The purpose of the court of the Gentiles in the temple was to give the “outcasts” an opportunity to enter the temple and learn from Israel about the true God. But the presence of this “religious market” turned many sensitive Gentiles away from the witness of Israel. The court of the Gentiles was used for mercenary business, not missionary business.
 
Matthew 21 prayer
When Jesus called the temple “my house,” He was affirming that He is God. When He called it “my house of prayer,” He was quoting Isaiah 56:7. The entire fifty-sixth chapter of Isaiah denounces the unfaithful leaders of Israel. The phrase “den of robbers” comes from Jeremiah 7:11 and is part of a long sermon that Jeremiah delivered in the gate of the temple, rebuking the people for the same sins that Jesus saw and judged in His day.
 
Why did Jesus call the temple “a den of thieves”? Because the place where thieves hide is called a den. The religious leaders, and some of the people, were using the temple and the Jewish religion to cover up their sins.
 
What does God want in His house? God wants prayer among His people for true prayer is an evidence of our dependence on God and our faith in His Word. He also wants people being helped (Matt. 21:14). The needy should feel welcome and should find the kind of help they need. There should be power in God’s house, the power of God working to change people. Praise is another feature of God’s house (Matt. 21:15–16). Here Jesus quoted from Psalm 8:2.
 
Jesus used this event to teach His disciples a practical lesson about faith and prayer. The temple was supposed to be a “house of prayer,” and the nation was to be a believing people. But both of these essentials were missing. We too must beware of the peril of fruitlessness.
 
Matthew 21 cleanse my templeOur hearts, minds and souls are now God’s Temple where He abides with all who believe in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. If Jesus was to come back, what would He find?
 
Would Jesus walk into a house (attitude) of prayer with a cleaned up heart of love for Him and for others?
 
As He walks through our minds, are they humbly repentant and cleaned by Him?
 
As He resides in our souls, is there room for Him to move around freely, having complete run of the place? What clutter of this world needs to go?
 
Are we hiding anything from Him? Or are we completely His?
 
Does praise flow continuously from our lips with child-like faith?
 
Matthew 21 weptDear Heavenly Father,
You are God and we are not. You have given us a lot to think about this morning. We are so grateful for Your saving grace because of Your love and mercy. Thank you for saving my soul and making me whole and Spiritually fruitful daily in my walk. It is all about You and Your purposes, therefore all praise and glory, honor and gratefulness goes to You! We are your Temple. May You walk freely in and find us faithful to You.
In Jesus Name, Amen
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FULFILLED

Matthew – God’s Purposes
 
Matthew 21 palm
Matthew is careful to narrate the story of Jesus in such a way to show us the fulfillment of all the prophets said in detail. God told the prophets. The prophets told God’s people how the Messiah would come, what He would do to save us, the suffering He would go through, and how laying down his life for ours for our sin would be our victory. The end of Jesus life on earth begins with publicly announcing His entrance as King…on a donkey’s colt…as written years earlier by the prophets.
 
Matthew 21, NLT
Jesus’ Triumphant Entry
 
Matthew 21 coltAs Jesus and the disciples approached Jerusalem, they came to the town of Bethphage on the Mount of Olives. Jesus sent two of them on ahead. 2 “Go into the village over there,” he said. “As soon as you enter it, you will see a donkey tied there, with its colt beside it. Untie them and bring them to me. 3 If anyone asks what you are doing, just say, ‘The Lord needs them,’ and he will immediately let you take them.”
 
4 This took place to fulfill the prophecy that said,
 
5 “Tell the people of Jerusalem,
‘Look, your King is coming to you.
He is humble, riding on a donkey—
riding on a donkey’s colt.’”
 
6 The two disciples did as Jesus commanded. 7 They brought the donkey and the colt to him and threw their garments over the colt, and he sat on it.
 
8 Most of the crowd spread their garments on the road ahead of him, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. 9 Jesus was in the center of the procession, and the people all around him were shouting,
 
“Praise God for the Son of David!
Blessings on the one who comes in the name of the Lord!
Praise God in highest heaven!”
 
10 The entire city of Jerusalem was in an uproar as he entered. “Who is this?” they asked.
 
11 And the crowds replied, “It’s Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee.”
 
DIGGING DEEPER….
 
Since it was Passover, there were probably about two million people in and around Jerusalem. This was the only time in His ministry that Jesus actually planned and promoted a public demonstration. Up to this time, He had cautioned people not to tell who He was, and He had deliberately avoided public scenes.
 
Why did Jesus plan this demonstration? For one thing, He was obeying the Word and fulfilling the prophecy recorded in Zechariah 9:9. This prophecy could apply only to Jesus Christ, for He is the only One with credentials that prove He is Israel’s King. We usually do not associate the lowly donkey with kingship, but this was the royal animal of Jewish monarchs (1 Kings 2:32). There were actually two animals involved, the mother and the colt (foal). Jesus sat on the colt with the mother walking beside.
 
By comparing Matthew’s quotation with the original prophecy in Zechariah, we discover some interesting facts. Zechariah’s prophecy opens with, “Rejoice greatly” but Matthew omitted this phrase. When Jesus approached the city, He wept! How could He (or the people) rejoice when judgment was coming?
 
Mathew also omitted “He is just, and having salvation.” Our Lord’s coming to Jerusalem was an act of mercy and grace, not an act of justice or judgment. He did have salvation for them, but they refused to accept it (John 1:11). The next time Israel sees the King, He will ride in great power and glory (Rev. 19:11).
 
This colt had never been ridden (Mark 11:2), yet he meekly bore his burden. The presence of the mother helped, of course. But keep in mind that his rider was the King who has “dominion over … all sheep and oxen, yea, and the beasts of the field” (Ps. 8:6–7). The fact that Jesus rode this beast and kept him in control is another evidence of His kingship.
 
Matthew 21 weptThere was a second reason for this public presentation: It forced the Jewish leaders to act. When they saw the spontaneous demonstration of the people, they concluded that Jesus had to be destroyed (see John 12:19). The prophetic Scriptures required that the Lamb of God be crucified on Passover. This demonstration of Christ’s popularity incited the rulers to act.
 
The people acclaimed Jesus as their King both by their words and their deeds. They shouted Hosanna, which means, “Save now!” They were quoting from Psalm 118:25–26, and this psalm is definitely messianic in character. Later that week, Jesus Himself would refer to this psalm and apply it to Himself (Ps. 118:22–23; Matt. 21:42).
 
Keep in mind that this Passover crowd was composed of at least three groups: the Jews who lived in Jerusalem, the crowd from Galilee, and the people who saw Jesus raise Lazarus from the dead (John 12:17–18). Sharing the news of this miracle undoubtedly helped to draw such a large crowd. The people wanted to see this miracle-worker for themselves.
 
But the Jews still did not recognize Jesus as their King. What caused Israel’s spiritual blindness? For one thing, their religious leaders had robbed them of the truth of their own Word and had substituted man-made traditions (Luke 11:52). The leaders were not interested in truth; they were concerned only with protecting their own interests (John 11:47–53). “We have no king but Caesar!” was their confession of willful blindness. Even our Lord’s miracles did not convince them. And the longer they resisted the truth, the blinder they became (John 12:35ff.).
 
THOUGHTS FOR REFLECTION…
 
Matthew 21 eho is thisGiven what I know, how willfully blind am I to God’s Truth in the Person of Jesus Christ? Is He my Savior in which I put ALL my hope and trust? Is He LORD of my life? ALL of it? Do I allow Him to guide my thinking, being and doing?
 
Am I convinced…for life?
 
Dear Heavenly Father,
Open my eyes to see you clearly, to follow you with focus and clarity and to live for you unashamed reflecting only Your glory. I humbly bow before you, King of my life and Lord of all my days.
In Jesus Name, Amen
 
And I’m singing…King of My Heart…
 
Let the King of my heart
Be the mountain where I run
The fountain I drink from
Oh, He is my song
 
Let the King of my heart
Be the shadow where I hide
The ransom for my life
Oh, He is my song
 
‘Cause You are good
You are good, oh oh
You are good
 
And let the King of my heart
Be the wind inside my sails
The anchor in the waves
Oh oh, He is my song
 
Let the King of my heart
Be the fire inside my veins
The echo of my days
Oh oh, He is my song
 
‘Cause You are good
You are good, oh oh
You are good
 
You’re never gonna let
You’re never gonna let me down
And You’re never gonna let
 
Oh ’cause You are good
You are good, oh oh
‘Cause You are good
You are good, oh oh
 
Songwriters: John Mark McMillan / Sarah McMillan
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WE WANT TO SEE!

Matthew – God’s Purposes
 
Matthew 20 blindedThe closing event of Matthew 20 is the healing of Bartimaeus and his friend, both of whom were blind
(see Mark 10:46–52). Here Jesus put into practice what He had just taught the disciples. He became a servant to two rejected blind beggars.
 
The crowds around Jesus tried to silence the two men. After all, what claim did they have on the great Teacher? But Jesus had compassion on them and healed them. He was the servant even of beggars.
 
This chapter contains some hard things for us to receive and practice. If we love the things of this world, we cannot love God supremely. If we are not yielded completely to His will, we cannot obey Him unreservedly. If we seek glory for ourselves, or if we compare ourselves with other believers, then we cannot glorify Him. We cannot acknowledge Jesus as our King unless we love Him supremely, obey Him unreservedly, and glorify Him completely. But if we do these things, we will share in His life and joy, and one day live with Him!
 
Matthew 20, NLT
 
Jesus Heals Two Blind Men
Matthew 20 what do you want29 As Jesus and the disciples left the town of Jericho, a large crowd followed behind. 30 Two blind men were sitting beside the road. When they heard that Jesus was coming that way, they began shouting, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!”
 
31 “Be quiet!” the crowd yelled at them.
 
But they only shouted louder, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!”
 
32 When Jesus heard them, he stopped and called, “What do you want me to do for you?”
 
33 “Lord,” they said, “we want to see!” 34 Jesus felt sorry for them and touched their eyes. Instantly they could see! Then they followed him.
 
THOUGHTS FOR REFLECTION
 
Matthew 20 healing blindTo call on Jesus is to acknowledge who Jesus is. The blind men called out, “Lord, Son of David…” This got Jesus’ attention.
 
How do we get Jesus attention? Do we first believe and acknowledge that HE is Lord, Messiah come to save and redeem us? Do we know that He knows our need before we ask but we need to ask to show we know He will answer when we call out to Him?
 
Are we like Jesus who stops in the middle of the mission to help someone else who is crying out for help? Isn’t this the mission?
 
Oh Lord,
Stop us in the middle of the journey with You to acknowledge those who need you, are crying for you and need a little help to find you. Help us always to point the way to You. Keep us always alert to opportunities to serve while ignoring the urge for praise. May our serving be as much a part of our lives as breathing…what we do without thinking about it. We want to see You!
In Jesus Name, Amen
 
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BUT AMONG YOU IT WILL BE DIFFERENT…

Matthew – God’s Purposes
 
Matthew 20 leader.pngWe are such easily distracted humans, especially when we are pulled away from God’s purpose for us to selfish ambitions and natural desires to be great. It makes sense that Jesus would pause and remind them again about what He will face in Jerusalem, predicting his death by telling them a few details of what will happen to Him. But are the disciples who are walking along beside our Savior really listening? Nope. There is a side conversation happening.
 
James and John, brothers who brought mommy along to ask what they are too timid to ask, are more focused on the kingdom THEY would like to see Jesus rule. Oppressed by Roman rule, they see Jesus being a revolutionary who will overthrow this government and set up a new kingdom. James and John, at mom’s request and push, want first dibs at sitting in places of honor next to their new king, Jesus, in a kingdom of their own thinking, not of God’s.
 
Jesus knows their hearts, even the heart of their mom before she even requested top honors for her son. I think Jesus made her say it out loud, so she could hear for herself what she is asking of Him. Then he explains what “leading” in God’s Kingdom really looks like and the responsibilities and acts of service it will entail. This comes on the heels of Jesus predicting his death to dull minds focused on self.
 
Do we do that? Do we lose focus on God’s purposes? Do we expect to be served?
 
Do we miss what God is telling us through His Holy Spirit? Are we seeking honor in His Kingdom work or serving from a grateful heart for all Jesus did for us?
 
matthew-20-different.jpgMatthew 20, NLT
Jesus Again Predicts His Death
 
17 As Jesus was going up to Jerusalem, he took the twelve disciples aside privately and told them what was going to happen to him. 18 “Listen,” he said, “we’re going up to Jerusalem, where the Son of Man[b] will be betrayed to the leading priests and the teachers of religious law. They will sentence him to die. 19 Then they will hand him over to the Romans[c] to be mocked, flogged with a whip, and crucified. But on the third day he will be raised from the dead.”
 
Jesus Teaches about Serving Others
 
20 Then the mother of James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came to Jesus with her sons. She knelt respectfully to ask a favor. 21 “What is your request?” he asked.
 
She replied, “In your Kingdom, please let my two sons sit in places of honor next to you, one on your right and the other on your left.”
 
22 But Jesus answered by saying to them, “You don’t know what you are asking! Are you able to drink from the bitter cup of suffering I am about to drink?”
 
“Oh yes,” they replied, “we are able!”
 
23 Jesus told them, “You will indeed drink from my bitter cup. But I have no right to say who will sit on my right or my left. My Father has prepared those places for the ones he has chosen.”
 
24 When the ten other disciples heard what James and John had asked, they were indignant. 25 But Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers in this world lord it over their people, and officials flaunt their authority over those under them. 26 But among you it will be different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant, 27 and whoever wants to be first among you must become your slave. 28 For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
 
Matthew 20 servantLET’S GO OVER THIS AGAIN…
Jesus said to them and to us…”Among you it will be different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first among you must become your slave. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
 
Are we ready to give rather than take? Are we ready to serve rather than be served? Are we ready, like Paul preached to the Philippians, to really “know Christ…AND share in His sufferings”, in God’s Kingdom work?
 
These are all questions for serious reflection this morning. Don’t be so hard on the disciples. We know the whole story and still lose focus from time to time due to selfish desires that lead to less than desirable servant living. God forgive us. Keep us alert and focused on YOUR purposes so that we hear your, “Well done, good and faithful servant” when we meet you face to face.
 
This is my prayer, In Jesus Name, Amen
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LINE UP!

Matthew – God’s Purposes
 
Matthew 20 line upNothing I would do as a teacher would get a bigger gut groan from students than when I would turn their line around for lunch or recess! My purpose was to stop the running to be first in line. They would push and shove, knocking people from the head of the line. Some would run, knocking over chairs for the coveted title of “being first” to go anywhere. The first time the students tried this method of lining up, they experienced “the first shall be last and the last shall be first”. Yes, I would say this out loud as I went the back of the battered line of last people who didn’t make it to the front and lead them around the room and out the door.
 
Those first kids, now at the end of the line, groaned and signed, “That’s not fair!” Mm, is that right? I don’t think so. Those who calmly walked to the line were rewarded for doing what was right. That’s all. This moment brought to you by “teachable moments by Susan”.
 
Ah, but I cannot take the glory or credit for this moment. Jesus taught his disciples (and all of us) who were always fighting over who was the greatest with wondering what reward awaited them for their work with this parable.
 
Matthew 20, NLT
Parable of the Vineyard Workers
 
Matthew 20 greatness20 “For the Kingdom of Heaven is like the landowner who went out early one morning to hire workers for his vineyard. 2 He agreed to pay the normal daily wage and sent them out to work.
 
3 “At nine o’clock in the morning he was passing through the marketplace and saw some people standing around doing nothing. 4 So he hired them, telling them he would pay them whatever was right at the end of the day. 5 So they went to work in the vineyard. At noon and again at three o’clock he did the same thing.
 
6 “At five o’clock that afternoon he was in town again and saw some more people standing around. He asked them, ‘Why haven’t you been working today?’
 
7 “They replied, ‘Because no one hired us.’
 
“The landowner told them, ‘Then go out and join the others in my vineyard.’
 
Matthew 20 not fair.png8 “That evening he told the foreman to call the workers in and pay them, beginning with the last workers first. 9 When those hired at five o’clock were paid, each received a full day’s wage. 10 When those hired first came to get their pay, they assumed they would receive more. But they, too, were paid a day’s wage. 11 When they received their pay, they protested to the owner, 12 ‘Those people worked only one hour, and yet you’ve paid them just as much as you paid us who worked all day in the scorching heat.’
 
13 “He answered one of them, ‘Friend, I haven’t been unfair! Didn’t you agree to work all day for the usual wage? 14 Take your money and go. I wanted to pay this last worker the same as you. 15 Is it against the law for me to do what I want with my money? Should you be jealous because I am kind to others?’
 
16 “So those who are last now will be first then, and those who are first will be last.”
 
WAIT, THERE’S MORE…
 
Matthew 20 last.jpgWhen we did deeper, it is most about those who receive salvation late in life. We should rejoice but our human minds wonder if they will receive the same reward of heaven. OF COURSE, they will. No matter when our friends and family accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior, we rejoice! We should not think or say, “well, it’s about time” and then wonder about the reward. “When we ALL get to heaven, what a day of rejoicing that will be…” Remember that old hymn?
 
We are all sinners in need of God’s saving grace. Praise God for not giving all of us what we really deserve. Praise God for His generous, reckless, relentless, unconditional, unchanging love, mercy and grace! Thank God for all He has done through Jesus Christ who brought us back into a relationship with Him! Thank God for His Holy Spirit that keeps us on the right road with focus on our Lord and His teaching. Thank God for His generous provisions, protection and blessings daily on top of all that! AND there’s an eternal home waiting for us, too when Jesus comes for His own!
 
There’s no need for groaning when Jesus turns the line around. The first shall be last and the last shall be first. Where are you in the line? Does it matter?
 
Dear Heavenly Father,
Thank you, thank you, thank you for all you have done, are doing and will do in our lives. Help us to stop judging each other’s salvation timing and works. Help us to rejoice like all the angels of heaven when one lost soul find you and follows you…no matter when.
In Jesus Name, Amen
 
Now, I’m singing…When we All Get to Heaven…
 
Sing the wondrous love of Jesus
Sing his mercy and his grace
In the mansions bright and blessed
He’ll prepare for us a place
 
Matthew 20 first and last.jpgWhen we all get to heaven
What a day of rejoicing that will be
When we all see Jesus
We’ll sing and shout the victory
 
While we walk the pilgrim pathway
Clouds will overspread the sky
But when travlin’ days are over
Not a shadow, not a sigh
 
When we all get to heaven
What a day of rejoicing that will be
When we all see Jesus
We’ll sing and shout the victory
 
Onward to the prize before us
Soon his beauty we’ll behold
Soon the pearly gates will open
We shall tread the streets of gold
 
When we all get to heaven
What a day of rejoicing that will be
When we all see Jesus
We’ll sing and shout the victory
 
Songwriters: Don Wyrtzen / Emily D. Wilson / E.E. Hewitt
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